Sunday, December 21, 2008

Feel Good Weekend

Catering special dinners for 100 to 150 people makes me nervous. There is nothing like the potential of somehow failing to feed hungry people who have paid for their dinner to raise your blood pressure. I guess I let myself be talked into doing these things for the same reasons that people go skydiving. When everything goes according to plan, the experience is exhilarating. Just like skydiving, there seems to be an infinite number of unpredictable variants that can cause things to go wrong—malfunctioning ovens, bad weather, illness, overcooking, undercooking, etc. I let myself be talked into doing this again because I knew I had an even better support system than the last time.

I was not disappointed. We all had a great time putting this dinner together and working together in the kitchen. Preparations went so smoothly that we did not even have to go in on Thursday as I had planned. Saul and I used the day to rest and catch up with odds and ends around the house. Ari was able to leave work early on Thursday and arrived here during the daylight hours. Beth came over for a while to stay with Mom, allowing us to go out together to grab a sandwich for dinner.

An icy rain began early on Friday morning. Ari and I went out to a nearby dollar store to pick up some additional foil trays for the potato latkes. Beth took a half day off on Friday and the three of us left around 1:30 p.m. to do the final errands which entailed picking up flowers, ice, and some additional paper goods. Adele was supposed to stay with Mom if Mom was not up to attending the dinner, but between the icy weather and the fact that Adele was developing a stomach virus, I arranged for Ken to stay with Mom instead. I think Mom was disappointed that she wasn’t going, but I had no way of knowing if the weather would take a turn for the worse and leave us stranded in some way. That also meant that Saul could not leave the house until 5:30 p.m. I wondered what kind of attendance we would have.

As it turned out, I had more volunteers who arrived by 4:30 p.m. than I knew how to put to work. Beth took over the part of the dinner that absolutely paralyzes me with fear, namely, the warming of all the food with limited oven space so that the chicken is neither dried out nor raw and everything is ready and hot when the time comes to serve everyone. She did a masterful job.

Produce Junction had beautiful roses that were in sturdy packaging of 25 for $8.50. With some additional greens, statice, and baby’s breath, we had elegant centerpieces for under $45.00 for 13 tables. I had scattered colorful dreidels and silver foil-covered chocolate Chanukah gelt on the tables along with rose petals we had purchased for a dollar. The dreidels kept not only the children amused, but quite a few adults as well and the chocolate was a great nosh for the “eat dessert first” people.

The evening began with a short and meaningful service at which our new choir debuted. I had a few really poignant moments at the end of the service when the choir lovingly harmonized Shalom Aleichem,” welcoming the Sabbath. In those few moments all the senses were satisfied. Beautiful traditional harmony filled the air. Eyes were greeted by the carefully prepared tables. The scent of warming potato latkes and roses was in the air. The room resonated with the anticipation of a warm and welcoming evening among friends. The opportunity of being present and responsible for those few moments was the exhilaration of my skydive. After that, the ethereal feeling was replaced by the nitty gritty of making sure that the dinner that followed ran smoothly. In this I was assisted by an appreciative and able crew. The dinner ran as smoothly as anyone could have wanted and I was personally thanked so many times I was embarrassed. The rain and ice were gone when we were ready to go home, and had not kept more than just a few people away.

The menu for the dinner was: wine and grape juice, challah, tilapia lamaize on Boston lettuce cups, marinated salad, boneless chicken breast with peach-apricot sauce, string beans with cashews, potato latkes with applesauce, maple pecan pie, plates of hand-made chocolates, coffee and tea.

Saturday, Saul, Ari and I all slept in. In all the excitement, none of us had realized just how tired we had become. After a late breakfast and a challenging Sunday New York Times Crossword Puzzle that took a few hours, I found I still needed an afternoon nap. After the nap and a light dinner, I was ready for bed again by 11 p.m.

Mom rallied somewhat this weekend with her visits from Ken, Ari, Beth, and today, Izzy. Jess sent Izzy to us with her other grandparents who were on their way home after being in Baltimore this weekend for Alex’s brother’s daughter’s second birthday party. When 4-year-old Izzy spontaneously reached up to hug her great-grandmother, I observed that Mom was shedding tears of joy at seeing her again. She spent as much time with Izzy as she physically could, but more and more she retires to her bed in frustrated exhaustion. We have also noticed that her sundowning syndrome has worsened lately. We had hoped that it had been mostly caused by her over-medication, but now, that does not appear to be the case.

Ari and I went shopping at Costco and Giant this afternoon when this morning’s delicate icicles began to melt. Our friends Susan and Paul were supposed to visit today, but begged off because of the ice. As we were pulling into the parking lot, neighbors from our old neighborhood whom we hadn’t seen for many years, Vince and Fran, crossed directly in front of us. We were able to connect with them for a few moments, and I hope we will be able to see them again when the rush of the holidays is over. Ari left around four to have dinner and light Chanukah candles with his sister in Baltimore on his way back to DC. This evening, we woke Mom and lit our Chanukah candles. I warmed up some potato latkes I had prepared and frozen a while back for dinner with sour cream and applesauce and made some pasta as well—a lot of carbs, but then, the weather makes us crave comfort foods.

Ari arrived home safe and sound, and Izzy couldn’t wait to get into her pajamas and be doted on by her two adoring grandparents at bedtime. I read her Purplicious, and Saul regalled her with “Shmuel” stories about his childhood Chanukah experiences in Israel. She was sound asleep by 7:45 p.m. I am looking forward to having the family together here this week for a few days when Sami finishes school and the others are off for Christmas.

1 comment:

sabasenders said...

I have now read about the sundown syndrome. I must say, it is so frightening. Now, that I have read some of the comments of other people who have been care givers. It makes me appreciate the meaning of the word LOVE. I will heed the advice.